about the fact that it was near the village Gnezdovaja that the archaeological
excavations of the historic cc Gnezdovaja burial place " were made.
cc Pastmasters in such affairs, the Hitlerites stoop to the clumsiest
forgeries and misrepresentation of facts in spreading slanderous fabrications
about some sort of Soviet atrocities allegedly perpetrated in the spring of
1940, and in this way try to shake off their own responsibility for the brutal
crimes they have committed.
" These arrant German-Fascist murderers, whose hands are stained with
the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims, who methodically
exterminate the populations of countries they have occupied without sparing
children, women or old people, who exterminated many hundreds of
thousands of Polish citizens in Poland itself, will deceive no one by their
base lies and slander. The Hitlerite murderers will not escape a just and
inevitable retribution for their bloody crimes."
At any rate the Soviet communique established that those Polish
officers in U.S.S.R., whom their Government were trying to locate since
August I, 19415 had at last been traced, but—they were dead.
On April 16 a communique was issued in London by the Polish
Minister of National Defence, giving full information concerning these
murdered officers in the U.S.S.R., and explaining how the Polish
authorities had been searching for them in vain for so long, and how, in
spite of numerous friendly requests from the Polish side, the Russian
authorities had, up to date, persisted in their refusal to produce a plausible
solution of this problem. As previously stated, the Polish Government
had been persistently told, in answer to all their enquiries, that these
officers " are at liberty," that " they have been dispersed to various parts
of Russia," or c< we are unable to trace them."
"In view of the detailed information given by the Germans," ran the
communique, " concerning the finding of the bodies of many thousands
of Polish officers near Smolensk, and the categorical declaration that they
were murdered by the Soviets in the Spring of 1940," and since the Soviets
categorically declared on April 15 that these officers had been murdered
by the Germans, the Polish Government decided to request the authori-
ties of the International Red Cross to send their delegates to the place
where the Polish prisoners-of-war were said to have been massacred.
On April 17 the Polish Government gave out the following statement:
cc There is no Pole who would not be deeply shocked by the news of the
discovery near Smolensk, in a common grave, of the massacred bodies of
the Polish officers missing in the U.S.S.R. and of the mass execution of
which they have been victims, news of which is being given the widest
publicity by German propaganda. The Polish Government on 15th April
instructed their representative in Switzerland to request the International
Red Cross in Geneva to send a delegation which would investigate on the
spot the true state of affairs. It is to be desired that the findings of this
protecting institution, which is to be entrusted with the task of clarifying
he matter and of establishing responsibility, should be issued without delay,"
Issuing this communique on April ij, the Polish Government ** at the
same time, however, denied the Germans any right to draw from a crime